By Cincaid 2 Comments
This is an attempt to summarize my thoughts after the first day of E3 press conferences, namely Sony's and Microsoft's. Worth mentioning: I didn't own a PS3 this past generation, and spent the majority of my gaming on my X360 and PC.
I have to say that Microsoft pulled off one of their (if not the) best E3 conferences in recent years. This was in most parts thanks to the lackluster reveal a few weeks ago, where they focused on the 'boring stuff', and thus saved the focus on games for E3. Hell, a Dead Rising 3 exclusive deal is almost enough for me to buy the console. And it seems they're (finally) adding some more value to Xbox Live Gold by copying the PSN+ model of free games every month. And who the hell would think that a Swery65 game would appear on their quick trailer reel?
However, there are certainly things that are difficult to look past, even if the conference itself was a treat. They didn't mention their take on DRM, used games, or online-once-per-day, probably because they knew it was a hot-button issue and likely not very easy to explain in a briefing format. None of these bother me personally; my console and PC is already constantly connected, I barely buy any used games or sell games for that matter, and I'm soon 31 years old so I'm not exactly running around lending and borrowing games from and to my friends. But for Microsoft to not understand that these topics are hugely controversial for their targeted consumers is bananas. What's even more weird is that none of the major publishers, except EA, seems to care that much about it, so either EA is pulling some heavy strings (which I doubt), or Microsoft is once again trying to nickle-and-dime their way through consumers; the ones they should try their best to appeal to.
And this is without even mentioning the €499 price-tag. The cheapest online retailer I can find in Sweden is currently listing the XONE at 4698SEK (roughly $714), which is way above my budget. Sure, I didn't exactly expect it to be much cheaper than that, but to see all these consumer constraints Microsoft put on their console, along with actually worse hardware inside the box than their rival Sony, is baffling and frankly a bit insulting.
To me the entire thing reeks of hubris. Microsoft enjoyed the best selling HD console this past generation, they made a shitload of cash off their Xbox Live Gold members, and most developers and publishers agreed that the architecture on X360 was easier to develop for than the PS3's. We now seem to get a 'jack of all trades, master of none'-console, with huge focus on cable TV (which I don't have, or ever will have), 'the cloud', Smart Glass, and so on. I know that a lot of consumers moved on to tablets and smartphones, but to aim for every possible consumer out there only results in pissing off the ones that were your fans to begin with.
I'm torn between a rock and a hard place because I really wanted to like the Xbox One. I have my gamer tag attached to the service, I have several friends on my friendslist I wouldn't want to lose, and so on. Though I doubt Microsoft will in the coming days go "Oh that price tag? Yeah, that was only a joke, it's really $399 just like Sony. And by the way, we're scrapping all these plans on DRM, used games and stuff because we value you as consumers just too much!"
I was sleeping during their conference since it was aired at 3am my local time. So I woke up to a twitter and neogaf feed full of "HAHAHA SONY WON, F U M$". I then watched their briefing and to be perfectly honest (and I know this will sound like I'm biased after my 'worth mentioning' in the first paragraph) I thought Microsoft's briefing was a lot more enjoyable. Mostly because where Microsoft focused on games, Sony focused on kicking Microsoft while it was on the ground and reassuring their consumers that they certainly won't take the draconian route of blocking used games or demanding an online status check once per day. That's not to say that Sony didn't show off interesting titles (FFXV and KH3, for example), but I'm quite sure both of those will show up on the XONE as well since they didn't explicitly say they were PS4 exclusives (like they did with FFXIV that was in the same reel).
But who am I to complain. Microsoft may have won the games-card, but Sony took home the show with the 'we respect you'-deck. Not to mention it has more horsepower than their rival's machine, and is still priced at €100 less (roughly $562 here in Sweden). Oh, but if Microsoft was copying the PSN+ thing with free games, Sony made sure to copy Microsoft as well, by putting online play behind a pay wall (which I, by the way, have said that they would do since February).
Both parties had, in my opinion, good briefings, but neither party swayed me to go for one or the other. For me it's more of a money issue, since I would gladly just buy both machines if I could. I would not, however, be surprised if Microsoft was seriously reconsidering some of their plans for the XONE. For their sake I truly hope they are at least.